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greetings, i saw a short thread from 2011 but i still have questions....

how do i protect myself when buying artwork from a graphic designer?

how do i know if the artwork they sell me is original/or copyright free?

What happens if i buy artwork (hypothetically speaking) and someone (school, designer, company etc. whoever) claims i have infringed on their copyright or trademark or what not?
 

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how do i protect myself when buying artwork from a graphic designer?
What kind of protection are you looking for? You may need to pay a deposit up front, then pay the balance after the job is done. Make sure you get the art in all the different file formats you may need.

how do i know if the artwork they sell me is original/or copyright free?
Most graphic designers create original artwork for their clients. You really just have to trust them. If you are unsure, do some Google searches of the genre of the art and see if it's something that already exists.

If the art already exists, you probably shouldn't pay for it and ask the designer to create something original.

If the art is original, the copyright will automatically be with the designer. If you want the copyright transferred to you, make that clear in your original agreement with the designer. Something simple should work... state that the copyright is yours upon full payment of the design services.

What happens if i buy artwork (hypothetically speaking) and someone (school, designer, company etc. whoever) claims i have infringed on their copyright or trademark or what not?
There are way too many variables to give you any kind of answer. Maybe it will be a problem, maybe it will be ok. It's impossible to guess without knowing the specifics.

If you intend to buy artwork, do the most research you can to be sure it's original. If the artwork unintentionally infringes on existing artwork, you will have to deal with it at that point. But most likely, you would just get a C&D letter.
 

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I'm a designer and a printer and I have my own products so I'd like to tell you something really succinct but there will always be gray areas.

The design remains the copyright of the designer unless agreed that you own the designs on completion. It would be extremely unusual for a designer to attempt to on sell your design for another use. If they got a reputation for that their business would die.

I pay other designers for work I use on product. If I own the rights and really want own the design I need to apply for design protection ($300-ish) and then for each class (t-shirt / poster etc etc $150 - ish).

Then you get the little 'R' to put on your stuff.

Copying is getting out of hand .... but it's still a major undertaking for small brands to register all their ideas especially after paying a designer. So maybe you work on protecting your bestsellers.

Steve from Print Edition
 

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If I own the rights and really want own the design I need to apply for design protection ($300-ish) and then for each class (t-shirt / poster etc etc $150 - ish).

Then you get the little 'R' to put on your stuff.
To protect a t-shirt design, a copyright registration at U.S. Copyright Office should only cost $35. And it should be the © symbol being used. The ® symbol is only for trademark registrations. But trademarks would be for brand names or logos, not t-shirt designs.
 
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